©1996, 1998, 2001 Robert M. (Bob) Leahy
2110 E. Crosby Road
Carrollton, TX 75006
(972) 416 - 6098
Approximate Word Count: 3,720
Adam and Eve
“No I don’t time travel anymore,” I growled at some guy in a red tie down at the end of the bar. “God won’t let me. But I used to.”
“You hear that, Dave?” the guy in the tie said to his companion on the next stool. “He time traveled. Didn’t I tell you he’d say that?”
“Yeah, Bill,” Dave said, as he drained his beer glass. “That’s what you said. So, Buddy,” this Dave says to me, “Where’d you go?”
“And why won’t God let you do it no more?” Bill asked, as he hit his friend’s shoulder with the back of his hand and laughed.
I looked at the two men. They were in their late thirties, early forties. Since they were in a bar drinking at seven on a Tuesday night, I figured they were divorced. Bill, the guy in the red tie, looked like he spent a lot of the time in the bar. He didn’t seem to be half as buzzed as his friend. Dave, the other guy, was losing his hair; he combed it up and over from his ear. “Will you listen--really listen,” I asked with a sigh. “’Cause if you won’t, I’m won’t waste my time on the likes of you.”
“Hey, now...Bob, ain’t it?” Bill asked.
“Dave and me didn’t mean nothing,” Bill said. “Come on, you gotta tell us your story.”
I wanted to ask how he knew my name, but he kept talking.
“Look, to show there ain’t no hard feelings, I’ll even buy your beer.”
“Okay,” I replied. “But make it some good stout. None of that weak-sister yellow stuff you drink.”
Dave ordered some pitchers of beer. Bill and I retreated to a table toward the back of the room, away from all the commotion by the pool tables nearer the bar. I studied the two as they sipped their beer, and I poured my dark ale. They seemed harmless enough. “You wanted to know where I went?” I said and nodded at Dave. “And you,” I said, as I looked at Bill, “wanted to know why God won’t let me go?”
I drained my first glass of beer. Then I said, “Okay,” before I poured another glass. “I’ll tell you the story that answers both questions.” I cleared my throat, leaned forward and began, “It is said that the serpent is the craftiest of all God's creatures, save for man. Now, you be the judge,” I said. “Because I heard it speak to Eve, asking, "’Is it true that God forbids you to eat from any of the trees in His marvelous garden?’" The serpent’s long tail hung in a loose curl around the branch behind it. It rested its chin on top of its folded arms. It--”
“Arms?” Bill interrupted.
“Yes, arms,” I said. “Now will you let me tell this story?”
Bill didn’t say anything.
“Okay, then,” I asked, “where was I?” I took a quick sip of my beer. “The serpent was in the tree, where it stared down at Eve. It had an oily quality to its voice, and that smile. I could just see he was up to no good.”
Eve answered the serpent’s question. “No, that is not what God said. He said we could eat from any tree, except for the tree in the middle of the garden. In fact, we are not even to touch it or its fruit.”
“Now why do you suppose He said that?” the serpent asked her.
“He said...He said we would die,” Eve answered.
“Bob?” Bill asked, his hand raised to get my attention.
“Now what?” I snapped.
“I don’t mean to interrupt, but will you at least tell us what she looked like?”
“Yeah, tell us all about Eve,” Dave added.
“Will you just let me tell the story or not?” I asked. But I could see they did want to know, so I said, “Okay...okay. But then, quit interrupting.” I took another swig of my ale, wiped my mouth on my sleeve, and continued. “Eve was kind of plump. Not too fat--you know, how it just kind of hangs and jiggles. But she was pretty rounded for her size. Her hair was brown. It was long and kind of tangled and matted. Her face had a sweet look to it, and her eyes were blue. Let’s see, what else?” I said to myself, tapping my chin with my forefinger. “She had berry stains of some sort, dark purple they were, on her fingers and lips.” I sipped a little more ale. “Okay?” I asked them.
“Well,” the serpent said, “I wonder what it means, to die?”
“I...,” Eve stammered, “I don’t know--but He made it sound sad.”
“Well, take it from me, Eve,” the serpent said in a soft voice. “You won’t die--nothing bad will happen to you. And God knows it. He’s afraid that you will become like Him and know everything if you eat that fruit.”
Eve looked like she was about to protest, but never uttered a sound.
"Follow me," the serpent insisted. And together they moved toward the center of the garden and the one forbidden tree. I stalked them from behind. I was determined to stop Eve from taking the fruit. That was why I time traveled there in the first place. Eve followed the serpent to the edge of a broad clearing where he curled his way up a young sapling. In the center, all alone, was a beautiful tree? It had silver-green, heart-shaped leaves. And its branches drooped under the weight of gold-red fruit. "Look at that fruit," commanded the serpent. "Is it not the most beautiful fruit found anywhere in this garden?"
"Yes, it is," Eve whispered.
"And it would taste as sweet on your tongue as it lies prettily in your eye," the serpent said, motioning her forward.
But just as Eve was about to reach up and grasp one of the large fruits that sagged from one of the lower branches, I ran forward and cried out, "Stop!"
Eve turned, her eyes wide with surprise. The serpent turned, too; its eyes narrow with contempt.
"Who are you?" the serpent asked. "You're not supposed to be here."
"He looks like Adam," Eve said, "but his skin is quite strange."
I looked down at my blue denim, all-purpose coveralls. I didn’t notice anything strange--not until I looked back at Eve. She was naked. Not a fig leaf. Nothin’. No wonder my apparel struck her as odd.
"I still want to know who you are," the serpent said.
"My name's Bob...Bob Wilson."
"And what are you doing here--Bob is it?"
"I came here to stop you...or her," I said. I looked at the serpent for a moment while I pointed toward Eve.
"To stop her?" the serpent asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"How did you know what I was going to do?" asked Eve.
"From your story in the Bible," I said, only realizing as I spoke that they would have no idea what I meant. "Everyone knows about your story."
"Everyone?" Eve asked.
"Yes, in my time--" I started to say.
"Your time?" Eve asked. "I don't understand this time."
"In the future, where I'm from," I began, "we have all heard your story. And I came here to stop you."
"Where is this future?" Eve asked.
"It's not a where--a place," I said. "It's a when--a time."
Eve shook her head in confusion.
"Serpent," she said. "Do you understand this time or this future."
"No," it replied. "But perhaps if you eat the fruit from the tree, you will understand," he added unctuously, eyeing the tree and its fruit once more.
"Oh no you don't," I said to the serpent. I stepped closer to shield Eve.
"Don't you see that he's trying to trick you?" I asked her.
"Why would he trick me?" Eve asked.
"Yes, tell me, too, Bob," the serpent said. "Why would I trick her?"
I'm afraid the serpent had me there. I don't ever remember a motive for the incident. It happened. It just happened.
"We're waiting," the serpent hissed.
"I don't know why you did it. I'll admit it. But I know you did and that you shouldn't have, so I came here to stop it."
"Okay, for argument's sake, let's say I did trick her, Bob. What's the trick?"
"You tricked her into thinking she'll be like God. But she dies because she eats the fruit."
"I don't buy it, Bob. Why would eating the fruit kill her? Is it poisonous?"
"No, I don't think so."
"So, what's the harm."
"I already told you, she dies because you tricked her."
"You said it again, Bob. She dies. How did you figure that out?"
"That's the way the story goes."
"God did say I would die if I ate from that tree," Eve said.
"See!" I said in triumph.
"No, I don't see," said the serpent. "I ate the fruit from that tree, and I'm not dead. I know more than I knew before, though, and that's what God is trying to keep from her," the serpent said with a nod toward Eve.
"You ate the fruit?" Eve asked.
"I don't believe you," I said.
"I did eat it," the serpent said. "See that pit there by the base of the tree? Go look at it. See if you cannot tell that I ate the fruit which surrounded it."
I moved toward the tree to check out the pit. When I picked it up, I noticed that there was no flesh on it at all. I couldn’t tell who had eaten it. I picked one of the red-gold fruits and compared it with the pit. I don’t know why. I couldn’t tell if the pit came from the fruit.
Eve asked, "What was the fruit like?"
"It was so wonderful I can't even begin to describe it to you. I just want to share it with you. Can't you understand that?" asked the serpent.
"Oh, yes I can," said Eve. "Adam and I always share new things with one another that we have found and enjoyed--the feel of the cool, tingling river as it comes over the falls and the sweet smell of roses opening with dew in the early dawn."
"Exactly," the serpent said. "It's like that. The fruit is a marvelous experience, as beautiful and as exhilarating as both of those things; and, yet, it's more."
"Something ate the fruit," I said when I returned to Eve's side. "But I can’t be sure it was him.” I gave the serpent a sidelong glance. “Or if this pit,” I said, holding out one hand. “Came from one of these fruits,” I added, holding out the other.
"You won't take my word for it, Bob?"
"I don't have any reason to trust you," I replied.
"And you don't have any reason not to," it said.
"But the story says--" I began.
"Story, schmory," the serpent sneered. "Did it ever occur to you that your story was a lie?"
"A lie?" I asked.
"A lie?" Eve asked, too. "What is a lie."
"A lie is the opposite of the truth," I said.
"And what is the truth?" Eve asked.
"It's...well," I began, but realized I wouldn't get anywhere because Eve didn't know about good and evil yet because she hadn't eaten from the tree. But the serpent did know about both--it mentioned 'lie' first. So, it told the truth about eating the fruit. It was the only way it could know.
I looked at the serpent; then I turned to the tree and back to the serpent again.
"I told you I ate the fruit," the serpent said.
"Did the serpent eat the fruit?" Eve asked.
"It must have," I said, "because it understands about the truth and about lies."
"And it didn't die," Eve said.
"But it will," I said.
"How do you know that it will die, Bob?" Eve asked. "I don't understand."
"Yeah, Bob, how are you going to explain the dying stuff that hasn't happened yet to someone who doesn't understand that there is a future?"
The serpent was getting on my nerves.
"If you want to understand half the things old Bob here says, honey, you will have to eat some of the fruit from the tree. I tell you, it's the only way he'll make any sense to you. And you do want to understand him, don't you?"
"Yes," said Eve. "I want to understand. I do."
"Then eat," the serpent said with a smile. "Eat."
"Hold it!" I said, as I stepped toward Eve. "It really is a snake. Can't you see that?"
"We call it serpent," Eve said, backing away.
"I'm only trying to protect you," I said.
"And what makes you think she needs protection from me," the serpent asked. "I think I need to protect her from you. I want to give her something wonderful, and you're interfering. And your reasons for keeping her from this wonderful thing don't make any sense to me nor to her."
"I wish Adam were here," Eve said. "He would know what to do."
"Put yourself in Adam's place," the serpent said. "What would he do if I told him I had eaten the fruit and not died? Wouldn't he want to try the fruit, too?"
"I guess so," Eve replied.
"Oh, he would not," I said. "The only person who could tempt him that way would be Eve."
"I don't like what you just said about this woman," the serpent hissed. "You're saying she's weak and evil--"
"Evil?" Eve interrupted.
"Bob, here, doesn't think you are good for Adam," the serpent said.
"Oh?" Eve said.
"He thinks you'll lead Adam into harm's way," the serpent continued.
"Why would I lead Adam into harm?" Eve asked.
"That's not what I said. I said that the serpent couldn't tempt Adam to eat the fruit the way it's tempting you."
"So, Adam is stronger than I am?" Eve asked.
"That's what he said," the serpent replied.
"No, he isn't stronger," I said. "That's not what I meant, and the serpent knows it isn't.
"That's what it sounds like to us," the serpent sneered.
"If he isn't stronger, then he must be smarter," Eve said.
"Well, you said yourself that Adam would know what to do," I reminded Eve.
"But I shouldn't have said that. Adam and I are equals. So I need to make this decision for myself. And, frankly, Bob, I just don't believe you. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about you and your being here that doesn't feel comfortable to me."
Before I could even take a breath, Eve turned and grabbed a gold-red fruit from a branch just behind her. By the time she turned back to me, she had bitten into it.
"Oh, serpent," she said. "It is as tasty as you said! And, see I haven't died because I ate it. God was wrong about that," Eve said.
Just then, Adam came into the clearing. (The second I said Adam’s name, I could see Dave start to interrupt. But I stared him down and continued with my story. I wouldn’t give him the pleasure. Nor would I tell him how scrawny and dirty Adam was. Not that Adam needed to be an Adonis or a Solomon. After all, it wasn’t that hard to live in Paradise.)
"Eve," Adam said, "I wondered where you had gotten to. I thought we were going to swim under the falls."
"I got interrupted," Eve said. She turned toward Adam, still holding the once bitten fruit.
"Eve?" Adam asked. He looked first at the fruit in her hand and then at the tree.
"Bob convinced me I could eat it," she said as she nodded my direction.
"Bob?" he asked.
"That's me," I said. I felt a little sheepish now.
"I don't remember naming anything Bob," Adam said.
"Well, you didn't," I said. "You see, I'm from the future, and I came back here to stop Eve from eating the fruit. But you can see that didn't work out."
"The future?" Adam asked. He turned to Eve for help.
"Oh, Adam," Eve said. "Eat this marvelous fruit and you will understand everything that Bob says and know it to be a lie."
"She's right, Adam," the serpent said. "We have eaten the fruit and we didn't die. Over and over, Bob said we would, but we didn't. Bob has a terrible problem with pride."
"I don't understand most of what you're saying," Adam said, cupping his head in his hands and shaking it in confusion. "The only thing I see is that Eve has eaten the fruit and is not dead."
"I ate it, too," the serpent said. "And I am not dead."
Adam turned to me and asked, "Did you eat this fruit, too, Bob?"
I shook my head, "No."
Adam asked Eve, "How did Bob convince you that you should eat the fruit?"
"Bob said the serpent had eaten the fruit of this tree, and I could see the serpent wasn't dead. I asked myself why would I die if the serpent did not, and I could see no reason why, even though Bob reminded me over and over that it was what God said would happen to me. So, when the serpent lived, then I believed him and not Bob, even though Bob said what God said."
"That makes sense to me," the serpent added.
"And how do you feel, now that you have eaten the fruit?" Adam asked Eve.
"I feel fine," she said. She offered Adam the fruit she had bitten into.
"Don't let them talk you into this, Adam," I said. "They didn't tell you everything."
"Eve has no reason to harm me," Adam said. He took the fruit and bit it.
"Oh, Lord," I moaned, "now you've done it."
"Now look at you two," the serpent hissed. "Naked like it was nobody's business."
"Oh, Adam," Eve cried. "What have we done."
"I don't know," he said. "But we must get something to cover ourselves. We must hide from God."
"I warned you," I said. "Don't eat the fruit."
"You told us we'd die," Eve said. "And we didn't. Now leave us alone!"
Before I could offer any words in my defense, the two of them vanished into the foliage at the edge of the clearing.
"Don't feel too bad, Bob, “said the serpent. “You knew the story, so you knew it had to happen."
"But I wanted to stop it. It's why I came back here."
"As I said, Bob, you're proud--very proud. That's not a positive trait in a man."
I felt rather than heard a voice boom across the garden, "Where are you?"
Then I barely heard a reply. Eve, in a timid voice, said, "I was naked, God. And, I was ashamed to have you see me."
"Naked?" the voice seemed to ask. "Who told you that you were naked?"
"Well, the serpent said it," Adam replied. "But we knew it."
"And how did you learn of nakedness?" the voice asked.
"We learned it because we ate the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden," Eve replied.
"And why," the voice asked, "did you eat of that tree when I forbade you to do so?"
"It's all Bob's fault, God."
"Bob?" the voice asked.
I wasn't about to say anything.
"Yes, you see," Eve explained, "when I talked to the serpent, it told me to eat the fruit, and then Bob came up and tried to stop me. But the serpent said Bob was lying and that I wouldn't die if I ate the fruit, and since the serpent didn't die when it ate the fruit, I tried it, too. And then I gave the fruit to Adam to eat."
"Bob," the voice asked, "why are you here?"
"I came back to stop Eve, God," I replied. "All I wanted to do was stop her from committing this first sin."
"What made you think you could stop her when the story says she couldn't stop herself?" the voice boomed.
"I don't know," I said. "I just thought I could come back here and stop her."
"Oh, Bob...Bob...Bob," God said. "I'll tend to you in a moment.”
A clap of thunder echoed across the garden before God spoke again.
"I banish all of you from this garden. You will toil and suffer and die. The joy of new life will come from pain. You will not remember ever meeting this Bob,” the voice paused. “You shall say the serpent was the bearer of your downfall. Now get out!"
"Now wait a minute, God," the serpent said. "I don't think it's fair to let Bob off the hook that way. After all, he is the one who convinced her to go against your will."
"You are the most accursed of my creations," God's voiced boomed. "Just because Bob was here and played a role in the downfall of the man and the woman, your role does not
diminish. You will forever be cursed. You will forever but slither along the ground and all humans will despise you. Now begone."
The serpent fell to the ground. It no longer had limbs. I saw it wriggle into the underbrush. "It's just not fair." At least, that’s what I think it said. I couldn't be sure.
Suddenly, I stood in nothingness. No more garden. No trees. Nothing but thunder around me. "Now, Bob," God's voice said through the storm, "for your punishment. You will go back to your time and tell and retell your story of failure here in the garden. Your punishment will be that you fail to convince anyone of the veracity of your tale for the rest of your days. And, Bob,” God said as the storm died away, “leave the fruit.”
I drained the last of my stout as I watched my companions.
They stared at me for a moment. Then they looked at each other. And laughed.
“Hey, what’s so funny,” someone asked from the next table.
“Man,” Dave said. “You just gotta hear Bob’s story.”